Nearly 150 people gathered Tuesday in downtown Olympia to protest this week’s court decision in Ferguson, Missouri.
In a decision announced Monday, a grand jury in St. Louis County brought no criminal charges against Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen, in August.
Brown’s death has sparked a national debate about race and police brutality — along with civil chaos and violent protests in the St. Louis suburb following Monday’s decision.
In Olympia, protesters began congregating late Tuesday afternoon at Fourth Avenue and Washington Street before marching toward City Hall. The protesters carried signs and chanted slogans such as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No prisons, no cops, police brutality has to stop.” Upon arrival at City Hall, protesters held a 5-minute moment of silence to honor Brown. Multiple police officers were on the scene, but no incidents were been reported as of 6:30 p.m.
Xavier Ransom, an African-American student at The Evergreen State College, helped organize and lead the protest. At City Hall, Ransom also collected donations for the food pantry in Ferguson, as well as donations the Ferguson Public Library. The latter has seen a spike in donations after opening its doors to provide lunch for children while schools are closed, according to media reports.
“I’m tired of police brutality and I want it all to change,” Ransom told The Olympian. “Police are here to protect us. We can’t rely on you to protect us if you keep killing us.”
A common sentiment among protesters Tuesday was a desire for justice, regardless of race. Olympia resident Cynthia Sheller said she was impressed by the non-violent protest and the passion behind it.
“It’s very disheartening to me,” Sheller said of this week’s court decision. “We have so much to be angry about.”
Attorneys for Brown’s family have vowed to push for federal charges against Wilson and have also called for peace after several businesses were looted and burned down during protests in Ferguson, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department to look for patterns of discrimination.
In an interview with ABC News that aired Tuesday, Wilson said he feared for his life during the Aug. 9 struggle with Brown, but said he would not do anything differently.